What is it?
Self-provisioning is a feature designed by many service providers, which allows their customers to provide themselves with resources, and set up services without the intervention of the technical staff or the service providers themselves. It is a very important way of giving the customers a good user experience when they purchase products and experience an easy manner to start them up.
Self-provisioning is not necessary for telecommunication services, but it is the main factor for Service Providers that are looking forward to improving their time-to-market and reducing costs by deploying new services.
How is it possible?
Giving subscribers the possibility of setting up their own service is not an easy task. The way/process to resolve the installation service must be designed carefully, thinking about the smallest details in each step, as if you were “telling a story to a baby” because success cannot depend on the customer’s technical knowledge.
These concepts apply to a lot of telecommunication services but now, if we are talking especially about IoT services, the idea fits in perfectly.
The IoT Platforms could make these processes easier with an auto-provisioning portal simplifying steps to subscribers to setup service and let it ready to use. But how?
Examples of uses
If the MSO wants to offer an IoT service, like a personal tracker, smarthome, health, security solutions, among others, the offer consists of one mobile or web application and the hardware related to it like panic buttons, home sensors, medical meters, etc.
The challenge here is letting the user enable the service without the intervention of the Provider/MSO technician/operator. This case is when the IoT self-provisioning portal takes the main role in the game.
Although it is true that the success of the process depends on the hardware features, it is possible if the customer interacts with the portal and completes many steps in a specific order.
Case 1: Using compatible hardware
Let’s see the use case of the Personal Tracker application:
The hardware has the functionality of receiving SMS through the mobile network, and the seller (MSO) has a self-provisioning method created with a mobile application, which allows customers to enable the service and create a user to enter and use the end-user application.
The process is simple: when the customer buys a service in the MSO commercial office, the seller gives them one sim card, the device and the name of the mobile application available in the marketplace, like Google Play, Apple Apps Store or maybe the App Store of the MSO.
Then the customer downloads the app and completes the registration form with their personal information by scanning their ID, for example. The next step is to scan the ICC ID (the sim card identification). With this information, the mobile app starts registering the user in the MSO database and activating the sim card.
One way to activate the sim card is with the ICC ID number through the integration with the Delivery Platform (For more information, search Service Delivery Platforms -SDP- on the Internet.) and, in this way, the line number (ANI, Automatic Line Identificator) is obtained.
Once the previous steps are completed, the device is ready to work. The IoT Platform will send some SMS to the created ANI with information of Access Point Network (APN), IP Server and Port number. From this moment onwards, the device is ready to use and it can start to send reports to the IoT Platform.
Then an email will be sent to the customer inbox with an application access link. When they log in the application for the first time, they will be able to see their device related to their user and use it.
Case 2: Using IoT gateway
If we take another case, like the Smarthome Application, which consists of sensor devices and an IoT Gateway, the experience results are the same but with different steps, because here we have a gateway that helps in the provisioning process.
The IoT gateway is the box that groups the home devices, like wireless Passive Infrared (PIR), open/door or smoke sensors, e.g.: Zwave sensors. These sensors plus an application make the Smarthome solution.
The aim to achieve is to have the service ready to use and this can be reached by registering these sensors in the gateway, which is easy with an end user application. Said application gives the gateway connectivity to WAN that allows sending reports to the Platform. It is possible with a mobile application, which could be named “Gateway Manager”. In our case, it is the “IwayBox Manager”, which allows two things: first, to setup the WiFi parameters through a Bluetooth connection between the gateway and the phone in which the application runs, and second, to create a user profile and relate the gateway to it.
At the end of the process, the customers can use the application with the sensor without the intervention of the technical assistant.
To sum up, the customers can enable IoT services with easy activation processes using IoT Platform tools, like a self-provisioning mobile app or a web portal. From the MSO point of view, this methodology permits to reduce costs and offers a good user experience in its set-up services, but be careful all the steps must be carefully thought of and designed because the user experience could be bad and this could damage the company image.
For more information about how the IoT Gateway works, please read “IoT Gateway: expanding the frontier”